It was a virtual love fest at the Hollywood Bowl when violinist extraordinaire, Gil Shaham, blew the shell off the 90-year old venue with his reading of Mozart’s Fifth Violin Concerto. Of course, he had some help from maestro Gustavo Dudamel, aka, The Dude, and the stellar musicians of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Indeed, it was an all-Mozart program under the stars as the classical season at the Bowl continued with a vengeance, with more than 9,000 patrons uncorking wines, whistling, stomping and generally having a blast.
Beginning with the overture to the opera The Abduction From the Seraglio, Dudamel – conducting sans score the entire evening – was ebullient and unstoppable, the jauntiness of Mozart permeating the balmy air. But this was a mere prelude to the genius of Shaham, who first played the Bowl two decades ago. At 40, the fiddler is at the top of his game, his 1699 Stradivarius sounding sweet, luxurious and thrilling, his love of music oozing through every ferocious bowing, double stop and pizzicato.
What does it take to make a Strad?
And not for nothing is this concerto dubbed the Turkish, its slithery arpeggios and zingy lines creating a positively electric buzz. And talk about flying fingers (pesky aircraft overhead were another story): Shaham reveled in Joseph Joachim’s lush cadenzas, his body gyrating with the melodious tones as if on fire. The Turkish element didn’t stop there, either, as Shaham assayed the traditional number, Nihavend Longa, ratcheting up the crowd’s devotion as he romped through the raucous number, his pal The Dude, equally astonishing with his awesome, well, armwork.
The icing on this Mozartean cake continued after intermission with Symphony No. 41, the Jupiter, its four movements a thrill ride from beginning to end. What more can The Leaf say, save that she adores the Jupiter, its first movement bristling with martial rhythms, countermelodies and full-orchestral outbursts creating a feast for the ears. And don’t even get her started on the achingly lyrical Andante, or the lightness of the Minuet. Bringing it all back home in the final Molto allegro movement, Mozart, with his deft harmonic colorings, has painted one of music’s most indelible portraits.
And for those folks who weren’t privy to being at the Bowl that night, not to worry: Classical KUSC will be broadcasting select concerts, this one included, on successive Saturdays at 2 p.m., beginning August 6 with Dudamel and Lang Lang. (To read The Leaf’s latest on superstar pianist Lang Lang, click here.) In addition, your faithful scribe will be talking to many of the musicians performing at the Bowl this season, so put the Champagne on ice and let ‘er rip. After all, it’s not summer in Los Angeles without enjoying a night of music and dining at the fabled Hollywood Bowl.